It Really is More Fun in the Philippines
In a country ravaged by natural disaster, with a typhoon and earthquake in one year, ethnic conflict and kidnapping in the south east and only red and orange warnings on SmartTraveller, it’s easy to let public opinion deter you from travelling to the Philippines. But with more than 7000 islands, five UNESCO world heritage sites, beaches that rival Cancun, an almost constant Jetstar sale and the reasons below, you should definitely ignore rationale (unless it’s the following) and fling yourself towards the Philippines.
1. Beer is the price of juice. Rum is the price of water.
Even if the Spanish colonial history of the Philippines screwed with its islander sense of national identity (or maybe we can thank America for that), it did leave behind a wonderfully clean Pilsen beer. San Miguel or San Miguel Light are available crisply chilled for P50 (just under $1AUD), and that’s if you buy it in restaurants.
2. Its fruit can cure cancer.
Sceptical or not, the guyabano fruit is available in tea, smoothies, juice and some weird soup, and available at every street vendor’s stall. The internet claims it is “the natural cancer cell killer,” lowering blood sugar and blood pressure and killing malignant cancerous cells in the process. Who knows what it does, but it’s scrummy and clearly black magic native to tropical Asia.
3. It’s a budget airline browser’s wet dream.
Because the Philippines are a collection of islands and both the road and sea transport are so slow, the easiest way to region hop is flying. Don’t worry! Unlike anywhere else, this won’t break the bank. Cebu Pacific have daily sales, and you can pick up flights from Manila to most places for cheap, evening if you’re booking only a week or fortnight out. We managed $15 flights Tagbilaran to Manila less than a week away from our trip. The planes are even nice! You get 7kg free carry on and halfway through the flight, the airhostesses run a game of plane trivia where you can win tacky merchandise and/or champagne.
4. You can indulge your Robinson Crusoe complex.
Again, I reiterate – there are more than 7000 islands, and yes, you can have them all to yourself for a little while. It is super easy to find a bangka boat to take you to your desired desert island: rocky outcrops, jungle forests all flanked with white sand. Beach bums indulge.
5. There are infinite opportunities to combine rum and banana.
Rum and banana pancake, flan, cake, smoothie, curry… At one restaurant, you could order a sliced banana that came in a pool of rum. It also only costs 10P (.25AUD) to add a shot of liquor to your street-side fruit shake.
6. The Philippines needs you.
In a country recently stricken by disaster, tourism is low. It’s the first time a hobo budget looks like an altruistic gold mine. If you want to feel warm fuzzies for going on tropical holiday, you need the Philippines as much as it needs you.